Afternoon Update: Rell delays juvenile detention center vote for 30 days.
Statement from Mayor Finch:
“I thank Governor Rell for taking the juvenile girl’s facility (which DCF had suggested be sited at Virginia Avenue in Bridgeport) off of this month’s bond commission agenda. As I have said all along, this important facility should be located at a more appropriate site. I look forward to continuing to work diligently with the Governor and DCF over the next few weeks to fully examine alternatives. I want to thank our city’s residents for having focused the state’s attention on issues surrounding the location of this facility.”
Statement from State Rep. Chris Caruso:
(Statement from State Representative Christopher Caruso (D-Bridgeport) on the decision by the Governor to delay for one month a vote by the state Bond Commission concerning the treatment center for girls.)
“This is a significant short term victory for the good people of Bridgeport. While we appreciate the decision by the Governor to delay for one month a vote by the state Bond Commission, the next step is for all appropriate parties to meet and select an appropriate alternative site. All of this could have been avoided if the administration had acted in good faith.”
The juvenile detention center issue will produce tons of good will for some pols, tons of turds for others.
State Rep. Chris Caruso is on the side of the angels fighting, screaming and kicking to try to defeat the state Bond Commission vote. Irrespective of success, voters know he’s putting up the good fight. Mayor Bill Finch is doing his part as well offering alternate city locations as a logical stab at sanity to persuade narrow-minded pols there’s a better way. Both Caruso and Finch, mayoral primary opponents in 2007 and possibly again next year, urged Governor Jodi Rell and the State Bond Commission at a news conference today to reexamine the proposed location on Virginia Avenue, located in Caruso’s district not far from Finch’s home. From Chris Keating, Hartford Courant:
“Maybe it was my naivete,” said Susan Hamilton, commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. “I thought the neighborhood would be pleased with what will be put there.”
State Rep. Christopher Caruso, the dean of the Bridgeport delegation, held a press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Tuesday morning and then marched through the tunnel that connects the building to the state Capitol. Caruso and his group were met on the Capitol’s first floor by Adam Liegeot, an attorney and spokesman for the governor who told the group that he would accept their letter.
“I respect you all,” Liegeot told the crowd of more than a dozen people.
“Heck with respect,” retorted Caruso, who has clashed often with the Rell administration and its chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody. “We want to meet with her. Let’s go upstairs.”
Caruso and his supporters then marched up the stairs to Rell’s suite of offices. The residents charged that Bridgeport has been treated like a foreign territory and left as a dumping ground for a trash-to-energy facility, several jails and lock-ups, and a wide variety of social problems. The letter still had not been delivered as of 1:40 p.m. Tuesday.
“Even though we are Bridgeporters, you are our governor,” the letter stated. “For more than two years, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Public Works plotted secretly to build this facility without our knowledge or input.”
Caruso says he was completely unaware of the plans for the facility until they burst into the public eye recently.
But the Rell administration responded that an article was printed in the local newspaper 18 months ago that the site had been chosen at 115 Virginia Avenue. Meetings were held with local residents in late October 2008 on the plans.
Caruso and others also said repeatedly at the press conference that Rell has not visited the site, and they pleaded with her to tour the facility.
When told that the Rell administration had said that the governor had visited the site, Caruso responded, “Maybe she was doing a campaign stop, but it wasn’t to walk that neighborhood.”
Rell visited the site again on Monday of this week, Hamilton said.
One pol who has a problem, and not just in Bridgeport, is freshman State Senator Anthony Musto who rode into office during Barack’s 2008 tsunami. Anthony is a decent, sweetheart of a guy who’s trying to learn the ways of the state legislature. His political skills, however, might convince Dale Carnegie to offer a new political course: “Hey dude, wake up!”
Anthony was drooling to kick out a news release Oct. 20 following Rell’s inglorious announcement to stick the tax-exempt girls’ facility in a residential area in the Upper East Side. “I’m glad to hear that this project is moving forward in Bridgeport, and I thank the governor for this investment in our city. Fifteen million in construction work taking place in Bridgeport is welcome news in these difficult economic times,” Anthony crowed in his news release posted on OIB. That release clearly showed that Musto doesn’t understand his district, and is totally disengaged from political common sense.
Musto represents a rarity in state government, a senate district that covers suburban towns such as Trumbull and Monroe with nearly one half of its constituents in Bridgeport. It’s not an easy thing to balance. Finch, when he represented the senate district, learned how to appeal to the needs of all three towns. Rob Russo did the same for the short time he represented the district before Rob was overwhelmed by the Barack tidal wave.
And then something happened on the way to Gov. Rell’s planned news conference in Bridgeport to announce her $15 million prison. Someone told Jodi this thing is gonna be a hornets’ nest. Let’s bail on the presser and figure out our next move. The item was temporarily pulled from the Bond Commission agenda and the state conducted a showy public hearing just so they could say that they did.
Meanwhile, Anthony had one of those oops! moments when he saw his constituents going batshit. He had a change of heart. Well, maybe this thing isn’t so good for my district after all? Now Anthony’s trying to reinvent history on his position. This is not the kind of thing a freshman legislator wants nipping at his heels. This issue is not just about one neighborhood. This is being felt in the North End, West Side and Black Rock, also neighborhoods in Musto’s senate district. Could the state bastards do the same to us?
A couple of Trumbull Republicans are lining up to challenge Musto, but to me Anthony is vulnerable in a primary, and he’s not just vulnerable in Bridgeport. In Trumbull, new Republican First Selectman Tim Herbst and Town Treasurer John Ponzio are kicking out financial revelations every week–the kind of stuff that ticks off taxpayers–that had occurred on Anthony’s watch when he was Trumbull town treasurer including sweetheart health insurance deals and overpayment on pensions to retirees. Add to that Anthony’s support for new tax increases in the legislature and now you’re ringing the dinner bell for a candidate that knows how to exploit weaknesses.
Musto won his 2008 primary by a hair over Marilyn Moore, former legislative aide to State Senator Ed Gomes. I don’t know if Moore will take another crack at Anthony but the time is getting closer to make that decision as we approach this Goliath of an election cycle. City Council President Tom McCarthy would be a formidable primary opponent as well but Big Mac has too much on his plate to wage a run. Black Rock City Council member Sue Brannelly is a pistol. But would she do it?
How about former State Rep. Lee Samowitz whose legislative seat was redistricted out 10 years ago? Lee is well regarded in his home district Black Rock and has the political sense to understand that a residential neighborhood is not the place to put a prison!
Now, one person who could help save Musto is State Senator Eileen Daily, a Democratic member of the Bond Commission, who’s expected to side with the governor to approve the bonding dough. She could stand up and say “I’ve heard the pleas from my friends such as Anthony Musto and I now realize that Bridgeport has other suitable locations for the detention center.” That would help get Anthony off the hook. But will Daily do that?
Speaking of the detention center Nancy Hadley, former director of Economic Development, sent this letter to Daily:
As you know, Bridgeport is the home to the new Juvenile Court and Detention Center on Water Street. Although a contentious vote at the time since it was waterfront property, it has been built and is providing a much needed regional service. This Friday, you will be asked to vote on another juvenile detention center that the Governor wants to build in a residential neighborhood of Bridgeport. I respectfully request that you vote no. This is not the right location. This design did not go through the same vetting that the first detention center followed. Why is a mystery to me but it is what it is. I suggest that the Department of Public Facilities finds a way to add a wing or several floors to the Water Street location in order to house the girls. It makes no sense to me to put a $15 million facility in a residential neighborhood. The Water Street location is next to the Intermodal Transportation Center, therefore the families have access to transit and rail within walking distance. The Water Street facility already has the court and educational facilities on site.
Senator, Bridgeport has just finished a five year overhaul of all of its land use policies. All of them! Over $1 million has been spent to create a new Master Plan based on the economics of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and new zoning map and regs based on transit oriented development, sustainability and smart growth. No other municipality in the state has taken the principles of responsible growth and sustainability and applied them city wide including a Downtown Village District. Bridgeport did this to reposition its economic development strategies to grow its tax base. Over 40% of the city’s tax base is tax exempt due to the plethora of court houses, medical facilities and social service agencies. Its mil rate is 38, far exceeding its competing municipalities. Bridgeport needs precious bond commission dollars to help Bridgeport grow its tax base. Now that the City has gone through the very painful process of doing the land use updates, Bridgeport should not be ‘rewarded’ with another detention center. It should be supported to help the private developers that need gap filling assistance to make their project pencil out. Those developers have been in the DECD/CHFA/OPM dance for over three years and have not advanced to the Bond Commission. Those are the deals that need the State’s help. Please Senator.
Send the Juvenile Detention Center for Girls back to the drawing boards. Ask the Governor to put the private deals that need gap financing on the Agenda.
Bridgeport did its part; it revised its land use policies to make sure the private developers do not have extraneous development costs as it grows its downtown. The gaps in construction costs, although now much smaller, are still there.
Please Senator. Do not vote to put another detention center in Bridgeport.
Help Bridgeport grow its tax base.
Former Director of Planning and Economic Development during the Fabrizi Administration
News release from SuBy:
BYSIEWICZ: UPHOLD CLEAN ELECTIONS
Files Brief With Court of Appeals
(HARTFORD, CT)‐–Calling on the courts to uphold Connecticut’s landmark clean elections law, Secretary of the State and potential gubernatorial candidate Susan Bysiewicz today filed an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, making her the first candidate to officially urge the Court to reverse the District Court judgment that struck down the clean elections law in August.
(Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield, 648 F.Supp.2d 298 (D. Conn. 2009).
Bysiewicz, a long‐time advocate for clean elections and strict campaign finance reforms, makes the case that invalidating the Citizens Election Program (CEP) so close to the upcoming primary and general elections will create an inequitable campaign environment for candidates who have participated in the program in good faith. The CEP provides public campaign financing grants to qualified candidates for state office provided that they adhere to strict fundraising and spending limits.
“The Citizens Election Program was a giant leap forward to combat the corruption that has marred Connecticut politics in recent years,” said Bysiewicz. “Now, we risk not just falling backward, but creating harmful new disruptions to an election in‐process. For that reason, it is vital that the Court hear from someone this law directly affects, an actual candidate who has pledged to participate in the Citizen Election Program in 2010.”
The CEP was developed and adopted as law following multiple state and municipal corruption scandals that have marked Connecticut’s recent political history. In August 2009, a federal judge ruled the CEP unconstitutional based on a lawsuit filed by Connecticut’s Green and Libertarian Parties. In her action, Bysiewicz joins Connecticut Common Cause and Connecticut Citizen Action Group to support the program and the principles on which the CEP was founded.
Bysiewicz argues that the first step must be to provide a fair and consistent set of rules for the 2010 elections. However, she pledged to continue her fight to protect and fine tune a system of campaign financing that allows qualified candidates, regardless of personal wealth, to run for public office in the years to come. “I’ve spent the better part of two decades trying to encourage young people to get involved in our political process and in government. Public campaign financing ensures that anyone can run for public office, not just the wealthiest among us or those supported by special interest money,” said Bysiewicz. “By establishing the CEP, we leveled the playing field so that ideas could take the place of dollars. We cannot afford to go back in time where offices could be bought and money counted more than anything,” said Bysiewicz. “Connecticut needs the CEP in 2010; but we’ll continue to need it in order to attract the best, the brightest, and the most committed public servants in the future.”
News release from Rudy Marconi:
NEW MARCONI WEB COMMERCIAL CALLS FOR BARRIER-FREE TOLLS
“No-Slow” Tolling Will Fund Transportation and Attract Business
RIDGEFIELD, Jan. 5–Exploratory candidate for governor Rudy Marconi has released a new Web commercial calling for putting all-electronic tolling (AET) on Connecticut highways.
“These tolls take traffic at regular speed, without slowing, and they could generate $1 billion a year,” said Marconi. “We pay tolls to drive through New York and Massachusetts. Why shouldn’t they pay to drive through Connecticut?”
He said tolls would reduce congestion and provide needed funding for transportation, which would attract business to Connecticut.
Marconi first called for tolls in an op-ed that appeared recently in the Connecticut Post. It can be found here: www.ctpost.com/default/article/How-barrier-free-tolls-can-save-Connecticut-292647.php
Marconi’s data comes from a study of AET conducted in 2009 by the state’s Transportation Strategy Board. The study can be found here: www.ct.gov/opm/lib/opm/tsb/reports_tsb/final_report_-_tolling_study.pdf
News release from Governor Rell:
Governor Rell: $4.5 Million in Stimulus Funds to Boost Use of Geothermal Heating/Cooling Systems
Homeowners, Businesses, Nonprofits Eligible for Grants
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced the state is dedicating $4.5 million in federal stimulus funds to help homeowners, businesses and nonprofit groups pay for the installation of geothermal heat pump systems, an investment that will lower fuel and electricity bills and promote use of alternative energy.
The cost-effective technology harnesses the Earth’s natural thermal energy for heating and cooling.
“This is a wonderful opportunity and incentive for hundreds of ratepayers to boost the use of efficient, natural energy,” Governor Rell said. “Connecticut is a national leader in embracing and promoting greener, cleaner energy. That allows us to create opportunities for new industry, new jobs and a healthier environment.”
The new Geothermal Heat Pump Incentive Program is part of the comprehensive State Energy Plan that has qualified for $38 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The broad-based plan includes programs that:
· Provide incentives to use alternative energy in homes and businesses;
· Expand fuel cell initiatives;
· Make state buildings more energy efficient;
· Create green collar jobs needed for emerging technologies.
The incentive program will be administered by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), a ratepayer fund that promotes, develops and invests in clean energy resources for the benefit of Connecticut’s electric ratepayers.
CCEF officials say there is enough funding available to support the installation of about 300 geothermal heat pump systems per year until April 2012, when the federal program ends. The systems can supply up to 100 percent of a customer’s peak heating and cooling load.
“The Geothermal Heat Pump Incentive Program will help to focus the public’s attention on this well-proven technology for reducing the energy needed to heat and cool our homes and buildings,” said CCEF President Lise Dondy. “In particular, the program will encourage Connecticut’s HVAC workforce to expand its skills in the geothermal arena and will stimulate residential and commercial geothermal installations by improving the return on investment.”
Earlier this year, the governor announced the launch of another alternative energy incentive initiative, the Solar Thermal Incentive Program, also administered by CCEF.
To view the entire State Energy Plan and for more information on the ARRA in Connecticut, visit the state’s stimulus Web site at www.ct.gov and click on the CT Recovery link.